The future of the automobile is electric. Though electric cars only make up a small percentage of today’s total sales, as companies invest more time and resources into EV research and the government imposes more restrictions on the internal combustion engine, we will see electric vehicles grabbing larger percentages of the auto market. Research and development into EVs will eventually lead to electric vehicles that are as strong and robust as the traditional vehicles that now dominate the American landscape. That being said, there are still some questions about the safety of these pioneer model EVs.
Chevrolet Volt Fire at NHTSA
The NHTSA is investigating a fire that occurred on its own lots. A Chevy Volt used in a side-impact crash test caught fire on the lot 3 weeks after being used in the test. The fire was large enough to damage other vehicles parked near the Volt. So far the root cause has not been determined, however, the NHTSA believes it originated in the lithium-ion battery that powers the vehicle.
Garage Fires involving the Chevy Volt
In the wake of the fire at NHTSA, there have been two garage fires involving the Chevy Volt. The first, a fire that destroyed a garage in Barkhamsted, Connecticut was determined by General Motors not to have been caused by the Volt, citing that cord and battery damage were not severe enough to have caused the blaze. The second garage fire took place in Mooresville, North Carolina. There was a Chevy Volt and charging station in the garage, but the cause has yet to be determined.
Redemption Amongst Fears
While the fires have the NHTSA questioning the safety of the lithium-ion batteries and investigating possible hazards in the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, as well as other EVs, one incident has shown that the Chevy Volt is worthy of its high safety ratings. A Volt on the Jersey Turnpike was side-swiped by another car and then rear-ended by a bus at 40 mph. The Volt carried two adults, a small child and an infant at the time of impact. While the electric car was totaled, none of the passengers were injured.
NHTSA Speaks Favorably of Electric Vehicles
The fire at the NHTSA will most likely lead to better safety designs for the batteries that power the electric vehicles rather than harming the EV industry’s future. Tough problems usually lead to better solutions. About the possibility of a fire in the event of an EV collision, the NHTSA said the following: “Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe the Volt or other electric vehicles are at a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. In fact, all vehicles – both electric and gasoline-powered – have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash.” That being said, the electric vehicle will march forward toward the future.